by: Amaris Hinton
I am 25 years old. I was allowed to date starting at age 16. All my life, my mother raised me to see people for their character–not their race, religion, class or creed. This applied in work, school, and romance throughout my whole life. I myself of mixed race, but never really saw myself different from anyone else. I never saw any difference in my home life with my white mother and my black father, who passed away a long time ago.
As I matured in the realms of romance and hormones, I noticed that I didn’t have a type that I was after. Male, female, short, tall, fat, skinny, yellow, black, white, etc.–I loved every single person I had a crush on or dated. They became a part of me. My mom just wanted to know that I was safe and healthy, the person of my affection’s intentions carried more weight than the color of their skin.
I wish I could say the same for the person that I wanted to be with or was with. There was always an excuse, always a fear of negative repercussions from family members. I never understood why it was an issue. I wasn’t dating the family, I was dating them.
In the dating world, I likewise encountered things like, “You are too white to be black, so I can’t date you” or “You are too black to be white, so I can’t date you.” It seemed to happen left and right, from people of all types.
It was hard, but I was young and I could shrug it off. However, when college came around, that is when the heartbreak that these statements signified would become real. I routinely “hung out” with guys who would tell me their type–essentially describing me–then turn and date (or marry) blond amazons or skinny supermodels. Because of this constant rejection, I started to let society taint my views of myself and relationships. I thought I wasn’t worthy of love–because I was a “mud-blood”–and I didn’t fit in with white people or black people. I would go out with anyone who would ask me out just so I could feel accepted. So I could feel “normal.”
I met two guys in college who epitomized my struggle, ones who used me emotionally and broke me. We will call the first one “Paolo.”
I spent many a night staying up, listening to Paolo’s hopes and dreams, laughing and growing closer and closer. We would go out to dinner, take care of each other when we were sick. I thought this was what love was like.
Then he met “Sherry.” He started treating her the way that he had treated me. I saw him change. Next thing I knew, they were living together, planning a wedding. My heart shattered.
After him, there was “Calvin.” He was my match in every way. He was mixed, beautiful tall, funny, into the same music, style and shows. I had never met anyone like him before. I grew closer to him, thinking I had found my redeeming grace and someone who could identify with my identity crisis. Down the road, I moved back to Ohio, and he asked me to be his girlfriend–and essentially proposed to me. I was obviously ecstatic.
But even after that, Calvin held me at arm’s length. He hid me from his family–because his family hated black people. Although their hatred wasn’t over, Calvin didn’t think they would support us. My world shattered again. How could someone of a similar background hide something that I thought we both held dear? Because of the situation, because of his fear, our relationship slowly dissolved.
This brings me to Bill. No fake name needed.
I met him through an online dating site, and we initially had no intention of dating each other. We met and hit it off instantly, and I was so glad to just have a friend who would let me be me. We spent hours together, but I was scared I was falling into my old pattern, of what falling for him might mean. I never held what had happened to me against the race of the person I was with, and instead, I internalized it and blamed on myself. He had no desire to date and told me from the start. I thought that would be fine, if I could just stay near him and be with him.
Over time, we would start dating, but he feared that his (father’s side of the) family would judge him for being in an interracial relationship–before they got to know me. We broke up, got back together, broke up, and got back together as he battled his feelings about us and his angst about his family’s judgement.
However, before Bill, I had never been with someone who struggled for me, who battled the prejudice around them, who did something about their fear. Today, my race is no longer in question with his family. We chose each other, and if people have something to say about that, we have each other’s support.
Above, you can see a picture of us. Remember: If you love someone, you will fight everyone, even yourself, to keep them by your side.
Amaris Hinton is a 25-year-old bookseller who resides in Cincinnati, OH. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA of the Arts, concentrating on Film and Video. Her hobbies include knitting, reading, writing and spending time with her family. She also has a deep appreciation for gingers. That and cupcakes. Yeah.